A Mighty Wind at GM

Wind tunnel testing is absolutely essential for creating cars and trucks that are sufficiently slippery to cut through the air with efficiency for improved fuel efficiency.

Wind tunnel testing is absolutely essential for creating cars and trucks that are sufficiently slippery to cut through the air with efficiency for improved fuel efficiency.

So General Motors has added another wind tunnel—a $30-million, reduced scale wind tunnel—next to its full-size wind tunnel at its GM Tech Center research campus in Warren, Michigan.

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GM aerodynamic engineer Nina Tortosa tests underbody airflow on a Chevrolet Cruze 40-percent scale model in General Motors' new $30-million reduced scale wind tunnel.

This is a 35,000-square-foot wind tunnel that is designed for aero testing models up to 40% of the scale of a vehicle.

One of the things that they’re doing there is creating clay models of vehicles, then using 3D printing to create components such as suspension setups complete with spinning wheels to determine the effects of airflow, and even engine blocks.

According to Ken Morris, vice president, GM Global Product Integrity, “The combined capabilities of our new reduced-scale and full-scale wind tunnels allow us to reach industry-leading levels of aerodynamic refinement. We view the new $30 million reduced scale wind tunnel as an investment towards a better, more energy-efficient future.”

The reduced-scale tunnel is equipped with a conveyor-style “rolling road” system that permits testing of real-world driving conditions—at up to 155 mph.

Don’t try that on real roads.